How to Convert to Islam
To enter the fold of Islam, all one needs to do is to pronounce the testimony of faith (shahaadah) with sincere conviction, being fully aware of its meaning. The shahaadah is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam and consists of two parts, namely:
- Ashhadu an laailaaha illallaah: This means: I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah; I worship Him alone without associating any partners with Him in worship.
- Wa ash hadu anna Muhammad an rasool-ullaah: This means: And I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah whom Allah has sent to all mankind; I will obey his commands and avoid anything he has forbidden and worship Allah according to His law and the teachings of His Messenger . (See page 42-50)
Taking a Bath:
The very moment a person embraces Islam is doubtless the greatest moment in his life, for it signifies his real birth through which he has come to understand the real reason behind his existence in this life. Now that he has entered the fold of Islam, he is recommended to take a bath (ghusl), washing his entire body with water. Just as he has cleansed his soul of such things as associating partners with Allah in worship (shirk) and committing sins, he is recommended to cleanse his body by taking a bath.
When one of the Arab notables embraced Islam, the Prophet directed him to take a bath. (Al-Bayhaqee’s As-Sunan As-Sughraa: 837)
Repentance (tawbah) means “sincerely turning to Allah”, and a repentant person is one who gives up sins and unbelief and turns to Allah in repentance.
A Muslim needs to repent and seek Allah’s forgiveness at practically all stages of his life; because it is only human to err, a Muslim is required to repent and beg Allah’s pardon every time he commits a sin.
What Are the Conditions of Sincere Repentance?
For repentance of all sins, including the sin of unbelief and shirk, to be valid and acceptable to Allah, a number of conditions must be met, including the following:
- To give up the sin immediately
Sincere repentance from sin with the deliberate desire to continue to commit it is not valid and will not possibly take place; if, however, a person commits the sin again after sincerely repenting from it, his earlier repentance will still be valid but he will need fresh repentance, and so on.
- To feel deep sorrow and regret for having committed it
True repentance cannot possibly take place without feeling deep remorse for having committed the sin. A person who talks about his past sins and brags about committing them is in no way considered penitent. As the Prophet once stated, “Remorse is repentance.” (Sunan Ibn Maajah: 4252)
- To sincerely resolve not to commit it again
Sincere repentance cannot possibly take place if a penitent person intends to repeat the sin.
Steps towards Acquiring Determination
- Pledging oneself not to repeat the sin under any circumstances and obstacles, not even for an instant, for the Prophet said, “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will relish the sweetness of faith.” Of these three characteristics, he mentioned “to hate to return to unbelief (kufr) after Allah has saved him from it, as much as he would hate to be thrown into the Fire.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 21; Saheeh Muslim: 43)
- Keeping away from people and places that are bound to decrease his faith and tempt him to commit sins.
- Repeatedly begging Allah to keep him on the right path and adhere firmly to Islam until death, in any language or form. Examples from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah include the following:
- “Rabbanaa laa tuzigh quloobanaa ba‛da idh hadaytanaa” (Our Lord, do not make our hearts deviate after You have guided us) (SooratAal-‛Imraan, 3:8)
- “Yaa muqallibal-quloob, Thabbit qalbee ‛alaa deenik” (O Allah, Controller of hearts, make my heart adhere firmly to Your religion) (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 2140)
What Happens after Repentance?
If a person turns to Allah in repentance, Allah will definitely forgive his sins, no matter how serious they may be, for His mercy “extends to all things” (Soorat Al-A‛raaf, 7:156). The Qur’an says, “Say: ‘My slaves, you who have transgressed against yourselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Truly Allah forgives all wrong actions. He is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.’” (Soorat Az-Zumar, 39:53)
After a person sincerely repents to Allah, Allah will definitely pardon him and forgive his sins; in addition, He will reward him; immensely: He will change his bad deeds into good ones, as the Qur’an states, “Except for those who repent, believe and act rightly: Allah will transform the wrong actions of such people into good — Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Soorat Al-Furqaan,25:70)
As this a reward is immense indeed, a sensible person ought to maintain such repentance and spare no effort to avoid falling into Satan’s trap which will negatively affect his faith.
Sweetness of Faith
Those who will most certainly taste the sweetness of faith, experience deep tranquillity and take great delight in experiencing closeness to Allah are those who love Allah and His Messenger more than anyone or anything else, love others, commensurate with their closeness to Allah and dedication to Islam, and hate to convert to unbelief just as they hate to be punished in Hellfire. The Prophet said, “Any person who combines these three qualities will certainly experience the sweetness of faith: (1) that Allah and His Messenger are dearer to him than anything else; (2) that his love of others is purely for Allah’s sake; and (3) that he hates to relapse into unbelief as much as he hates to be cast into the Fire.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 21; Saheeh Muslim: 43)
A Muslim relishes the sweetness of faith when he hates to relapse into unbelief just as much as he hates to be thrown into the Fire.
Showing Gratefulness to Allah for His Guidance
A Muslim owes Allah the Almighty a great debt of gratitude for helping him repent of the sins he has committed and for guiding him to the truth. The following are the best things a Muslim can possibly do to express gratitude to Allah for such blessings:
- Holding Fast to Islam and Patiently Enduring Hardships that Come One’s Way
It goes without saying that if a person has a priceless treasure, he will undoubtedly do his best to protect it. Islam is undeniably the best gift to mankind, for it is not a mere set of abstract ideology, nor is it a hobby which a person may practise whenever he feels like it; rather, it is a religion and a way of life which governs a Muslim’s life in all its aspects without exception. Commanding His Messenger to stubbornly hold fast to Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an, being on the right path, Allah says in the Qur’an, “So hold fast to what has been revealed to you. You are on a straight path.” (Soorat Az-Zukhrf, 43:43)
A Muslim must not feel sad if he experiences any form of hardship, for it is part of Allah’s wise plan to test His servants. Allah even tested His prophets and messengers, who are far better than us, and the Qur’an tells us how they encountered untold suffering at the hands of relatives and enemies alike, without losing heart, weakening in their faith or wavering under adversity. The great hardship a Muslim faces due to his dedication to the truth is one of the ways Allah tests His servants’ faith. Therefore, live up to your lofty principles, try your best to pass the test, adhere to the truth under all circumstances and constantly pray to Allah to keep you on the right path, just as the Prophet himself did. Repeat the supplication: “Yaa muqallibal-quloob, Thabbit qalbee‛alaa deenik” (O Allah, Controller of hearts, make my heart adhere firmly to Your religion). (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 2140)
Allah says in this context, “Do people think that once they say, ‘We believe,’ they will be left alone and not be put to the test? We certainly tried those who have gone before them, so Allah will certainly distinguish between those who are truthful and those who are lying.” (Soorat Al-‛Ankaboot,29:2-3)
- Doing One’s Best to Call to Islam with Wisdom and fair Admonition
Engaging in da‛wah work (calling others to Islam) is undoubtedly one of the best ways of expressing gratitude to Allah as well as one of the most effective means to remain constant in faith. If a person recovers from a life-threatening disease which has caused him a great deal of suffering and misery after discovering the right cure for his disease, he will certainly spread such a remedy amongst people, particularly amongst his relatives and closest friends. This point is elucidated as follows: